Corded vs Cordless Reciprocating Saw : Which is Better?

In Brief: Corded vs Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Deciding whether to buy a corded or a cordless reciprocating saw can be difficult. Corded versions offer more power for longer, but cordless versions offer increased mobility and portability. This guide will help you to decide whether a corded or cordless reciprocating saw is right for you.

A reciprocating saw can be a vital part of your toolkit. If you are thinking of buying one, you may be torn between getting a corded or cordless version.

While both offer the same function, there are some key differences between them that you should be aware of before making a purchase.

This guide will arm you with the knowledge you need to make the right choice the next time you buy a reciprocating saw.

Differences Between Corded and Cordless Reciprocating Saws

FeatureCorded Reciprocating SawCordless Reciprocating Saw
PriceSimilar, but no additional costs.Similar, but extra costs for batteries.
DesignAttached to power outlet.Powered by lithium-ion batteries.
When to useWhen cutting all day.When cutting away from power outlet.
MaterialsAny material with the right blade.Has trouble with thicker/tougher materials.
PortabilityLess portable due to power cord.Highly portable.
WeightLighter.Heavier, due to battery.
SafetyDanger of cutting the power cord.Safe.

How It Works

Reciprocating saws are handheld power tools that feature a blade that moves backward and forwards.

Corded versions are powered via an outlet. Cordless versions use 9V, 12V or 18V lithium-ion batteries, which you will need to charge.

Both are similar in appearance to a power drill. The blade extends from the front, where the drill bit would go and moves back and forth in the same action as a hacksaw.

When in use, you hold the grip and move it through the material, allowing the reciprocating motion of the blade to do all the work for you.

Blades are available for all manner of materials. You will need to choose the right blade for the material you are cutting, or risk snapping the blade.

When To Use

Reciprocating saws are versatile, performing rough cuts through all sorts of materials.

They are mostly used in demolition work, where the ability to get into tight spaces and cut through any material helps.

Reciprocating saws are also useful for cutting PVC pipes, as you might need to when doing plumbing work.

Corded versions are particularly useful for jobs that require you to be cutting with it all day. Cordless versions have a limited battery life that can mean you are stopping and starting all day, which is not the case with corded versions.

Cordless versions are more useful when a power outlet is not available, especially when working up a ladder or on some scaffolding.


Corded reciprocating saws are generally more powerful than their cordless counterparts, which is true of many power tools.

The power limitation of cordless versions puts a dampener on the range of materials it can comfortably cut.

Trying to get through thick or hard materials with a cordless saw will take significantly longer and quickly drain the saw’s batteries.

Both can cut through any material, given the right blade. It is vital to pick the right blade for the job as each caters specifically for cutting through a specific material.

Choosing the wrong one can lead the blade to break.


Corded reciprocating saws pay for their extra power with limited portability.

Both are portable, in that they are relatively small, light, and easily brought from site to site. However, when on a job site or just around the home, the cordless version offers you more freedom wherever you work.

The cord on a corded reciprocating saw limits how far you can go from an outlet. For many applications this will not be a problem, but there are times when you will wish you had gone cordless.

For example, if you spot an errant branch on the tree at the end of the garden, you may have to search the house for an extension cord before using a corded saw to clip it.


Prices between corded and cordless reciprocating saws are broadly similar.

However, you do need to take the additional cost of replacement or backup batteries into account.

Batteries degrade over time, leading to shorter battery life. Eventually, you will need to buy a replacement, which can add up to a significant cost over the lifetime of the saw.

Many contractors and construction workers prefer to have at least one backup battery, too.

Should the battery they are using run out, it makes sense to have an additional one ready and charged while the other one recharges. This presents an additional cost.


Reciprocating saws are handheld and can be used for hours at a time, especially during long demolition jobs, which makes weight important.

Cordless saws have an attached battery pack, adding to the weight of the tool.

While the battery only adds a small amount of weight, it can become significant over an eight-hour day.

Not only does the added weight increase muscle fatigue, but it also makes the saw harder to use.


As with most tools, cordless versions of the reciprocating saw are safer than corded versions.

The main issue is the cord. When using a corded reciprocating saw, there is a danger of cutting through the cord if you are not paying enough attention to where it is.

Cordless models do not have the same problem.

Corded models are also more powerful. With extra power comes extra risk, as any accident you do have will be made worse. You are also at a higher risk of losing control of a more powerful saw.

What Is A Corded Reciprocating Saw?

A corded reciprocating saw is a handheld portable saw with a reciprocating blade that moves in a back and forth motion. You can buy a variety of saw blades that are suitable for all kinds of cutting jobs.

It is powered from an outlet via a power cord, which limits its mobility and portability and necessitates extra care when cutting.

They are lighter than corded models and are more suited to heavy-duty cutting and long use times.

What Is A Cordless Reciprocating Saw?

A cordless reciprocating saw is a handheld portable saw with a reciprocating blade that moves in a back and forth motion. You can buy a variety of saw blades that are suitable for all kinds of cutting jobs.

It is powered by 9V, 12V or 18V lithium-ion batteries rather than directly from the outlet. The battery makes it weightier and grants it a shorter use time, especially with tough materials.

On the other hand, it is mobile and portable, untethering you from power outlets and allowing you to work anywhere.


We hope that this guide has helped you to understand the key differences between corded and cordless reciprocating saws. Next time you are purchasing a reciprocating saw, you will be knowledgeable enough to know whether to buy a corded or cordless model.

Do you have any questions or comments about this guide or reciprocating saws in general? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

About Michael Adams

Michael has been providing handyman services for the last 14 years. He also contributes as a writer sharing his experience and experience for design projects.

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